Breast Cancer Surgery

Breast cancer surgery is a key component of breast cancer usually the first line of attack against cancer. The aim of breast cancer surgery is to remove the entire tumor from the breast. Some of the lymph nodes around and in the underarm area (axillary nodes) may also be removed to see if cancer cells are present. Breast cancer has different surgery options that depend on many factors like the stage of cancer, the “personality” of cancer, and what is acceptable to the patient in terms of the long-term peace of mind. 

Breast Cancer Surgery - Overview

Breast cancer surgery is a key component of breast cancer usually the first line of attack against cancer. The aim of breast cancer surgery is to remove the entire tumor from the breast. Some of the lymph nodes around and in the underarm area (axillary nodes) may also be removed to see if cancer cells are present. Breast cancer has different surgery options that depend on many factors like the stage of cancer, the “personality” of cancer, and what is acceptable to the patient in terms of the long-term peace of mind.  The different surgeries for breast cancer are as follow

Lumpectomy– This type of surgery is performed to remove only a portion of the breast tissue. This surgery generally takes place in women with small breasts or women with early cancer stages. 

Mastectomy – This type of surgery is performed to remove the cancerous part along with the healthy tissue around also called partial mastectomy. However, lumpectomy is technically a form of partial mastectomy; more tissue is removed in partial mastectomy than in lumpectomy. Total Mastectomy is performed to remove the entire breasts along with the nipples, areola and sentinel lymph nodes. By opting for a total mastectomy, there are fewer chances of re-occurrence of cancer.

Breast Cancer Surgery - Symptoms

Breast cancer may not cause any symptoms in its premature stages. In many cases, a tumor may be too small to be felt, but an abnormality can still be seen on a mammogram. If a tumor can be felt, the first sign is usually a new lump in the breast that was not there before. However, not all lumps are cancer.

Each type of breast cancer can cause different symptoms. Many of these symptoms are similar, but some can be different. Symptoms for the most common breast cancers include:

  • Thickening of breast lump or tissue that feels different than surrounding tissue and has developed recently
  • breast pain
  • red, pitted skin over your entire breast
  • swelling in each part of your breast
  • a nipple discharge other than breast milk
  • bloody discharge from your nipple
  • flaking peeling, or scaling of skin on your nipple or breast
  • a sudden, unexplained change in the shape or size of your breast
  • inverted nipple
  • changes to the appearance of the skin on your breasts
  • a lump or swelling under your arm

Breast Cancer Surgery - Pre-Procedure

Before your surgery, you will have few sittings with your doctor and you will be asked to decide whether you will opt for a lumpectomy or mastectomy which is one of the biggest decisions you will have to take in consultation with your doctor. Before your surgery, your doctor will recommend a few tests to know your overall health and monitor cancer’s presence in the breasts. Some of the common tests include:

  •   ECG
  •   Chest X-Ray
  •   Cancer Screening
  •   Blood Tests

Once the entire test is completed your doctor will also explain you the process and mark the area of operation. Patients are not allowed to eat or drink for a few hours before the surgery. Smoking is also strictly prohibited during this time.

Breast Cancer Surgery - During Procedure

The First step of the breast cancer surgery is giving anesthesia to the patient then a team of surgical oncologists perform the operation at a breast cancer hospital. The anesthesiologist will try to keep you comfortable and safe throughout your surgery to avoid any postoperative pain and nausea. After that a pathologist then examines the tissues removed from the body and provides instant information to your surgeon to facilitate optimum removal of the tumor so that the patient doesn’t have to undergo multiple surgeries.

Breast Cancer Surgery - Post-Procedure

After the surgery the patient is given a number of pain-killers to reduce the operative pain and a rehabilitation therapist works with the patient to help her regain her strength. Depending on the type of surgery you have undergone, the patient may have some drain tubes near the wound which collect blood and fluids from the surgical wounds. Post a lumpectomy surgery, the patient might have to stay for 1 or 2 days and in the case of a mastectomy, the patient might have to stay a day or two extra in the hospital.

Breast Cancer Surgery - Risk & Complications

There are a few risks and complications which you will be told before the surgery by your doctor so that you can take an informed decision.

Risks that are involved in a breast cancer surgery are as follow:

  •   The occurrence of wound infection in the breast which can be treated with antibiotics.
  •   The patient might have trouble in breathing and some heart problems during anesthesia.
  •   If a breast reconstruction surgery is performed, there can be few complications like wound infection or flap failure.
  •   If it is an extensive surgery, there might be chances of heavy bleeding.

Post-Surgery Complications

  •   An abnormal collection of blood outside the vessels called Hematoma might occur near the wound while Seroma can cause fluid to accumulate in the wound area.
  •   Patients might also experience swelling in the arm due to the removal of lymph nodes.
  •   There is extensive bleeding in a few cases post the surgery.

Breast Cancer Surgery - Doctors

  • Dr Hari Goyal

    Dr Hari Goyal

    HOD , DM, MD, MBBS

    Medical Oncologist

    23 years of experience

  • Dr. S Hukku

    Dr. S Hukku

    Director , MBBS, MD, Fellowship

    Oncologist

    35 years of experience

  • Dr. V. P. Bhalla

    Dr. V. P. Bhalla

    Senior Consultant , MBBS, MS

    Surgical Gastroenterologist

    31 years of experience

  • Dr. Durgatosh Pandey

    Dr. Durgatosh Pandey

    Director , DNB, MCh, MS, MBBS

    Surgical Oncologist

    18 years of experience

  • Dr. Vedant Kabra

    Dr. Vedant Kabra

    Director , MBBS, MS, DNB

    Surgical Oncologist

    20 Years Experience

  • Dr. Kanchan Kaur

    Dr. Kanchan Kaur

    Senior Consultant , MBBS, MS, MS

    Surgical Oncologist

    17 years of experience

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